Born Eleanor Hodgman in Littleton, New Hampshire on December 19, 1868, this young woman trained to be a singer at the New England Conservatory of Music, but turned to writing shortly after she was married to John Lyman Porter in 1892. The couple moved to Massachusetts.
Mrs. Porter wrote for both children and adults, but it is primarily for her children’s books that she is remembered. Her most enduring book is Pollyanna, which became a part of the English language (we often call someone a “Pollyanna” when that person is unfailingly optimistic). One million copies of the book were sold in 1913, the year in which it was published. In 1916, Helen Hayes starred in a Broadway production of the book. In 1920, Mary Pickford starred in the first movie version of Pollyanna.
Mrs. Porter’s first really successful book was Miss Billy (1911), followed by Miss Billy’s Decision (1912). Among her other books for children are Cross Currents (her first book, 1907), Six Star Ranch (1916), and The Turn of the Tide (1928).
She died in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1920.